In an effort to avoid another lonely Christmas in Bamako, I headed eastward. First to Mopti, an island among floodplains sprouted with rice and replete with boats, fishermen, birds, and beautiful Sudo-Sahelian (Sudo like Sudanese) architecture, with a mosque to rival the best.
On to Bandiagara, gateway to Dogon country, for an escaped Christmas Eve. 65 kilometers by moto on a mostly deserted-road [we did spot a camel!], but quick as a whistle if you ask me.
We toured the town on foot, had our fair share of Castel beer, and I thanked the stars as often as possible for sticking with me through thick and thin, but mostly thin.
Bandiagara and the villages around it feature truly stunning stone architecture, a distinct departure from the mud brick and adobe that defines so much of Malian homes and other buildings. it’s unexpected, and distinguished, and I daresay downright magical.
For a final excursion, we headed to Djenné, old trans-Saharan trade partners with Timbuktu, and accessible by ferry most of the year round – a ferry piled with any and every manner of Important Items to Cross, including piles of wood, chickens, several taxis, and the town’s mayor.
There are beautiful things in Djenné, beautiful things indeed…
But the most striking, and the most famous, is the Great Mosque, largest adobe building in the world. So large, in fact, that UNESCO got involved. Outstanding and prestigious are their words…
I settled for “wow.” Better than any sandcastle I ever built – a most impressive pile of mud.
We departed Mopti to return to Bamako at 4am, and managed to make it in 10 hours, roadside breakdown notwithstanding.
Here’s to adventures, and holiday cheer.